Police Interview Newsletter

Volume 4, Issue 4 (July-August 2005)


In the last issue of Police Interview, "Your Blind Spots: Know Thyself", I offered several examples of police officers who were experiencing serious difficulties but who decided to manage their situations in very different ways.

Recall that only Captain Bishop, the 20 year veteran who was encountering difficulty in the weekly command staff meetings, resolved to ask his coworkers for some much-needed feedback. As you may remember, the captain had begun noticing that none of his ideas or suggestions were being taken seriously by the other members of the management team. To his credit, Captain Bishop spoke privately with two other captains and a police major who were fellow members on the management team. The Captain needed some honest feedback and he knew it! Captain Bishop deeply appreciated the information that his colleagues shared with him and immediately started to make some conscious changes in his own behavior. This willingness to learn about one's blind spots and to make corrections where necessary is one benchmark of an excellent leader.

On the other hand Mark, the 26 year old recruit who was caught up in physical struggles with his wife, decided to go it alone. His excessive pride and sense of self-sufficiency prevented Mark from asking for help and counsel. Likewise Sam, the newly-promoted platoon sergeant allowed tensions and discomforts between he and his direct reports to fester. Instead of asking his platoon members for feedback, Sam became increasingly defensive and closed-minded. He refused to ask the important questions that might have allowed him to grow as a leader.

Where are your blind spots? Like it or not, we've all got them! What are you doing or not doing that is detracting from your effectiveness on the job? At home? In relationships with friends? What do your supervisors, peers, direct reports, and/or friends observe in you that you may be totally unaware of?

A police officer, at any level in the organization, is prone to resist seeking feedback unless he is unusually comfortable with himself and truly accepts the fact that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. New recruits and command staff alike may feel the need to go-it-alone and to deny shortcomings in a fashion that threatens to isolate and alienate them from other officers.

360o Feedback: Benchmarks®

In addition to asking others for verbal, face-to-face feedback, another very powerful means of obtaining helpful information about oneself is to ask your boss, supervisors, peers, and direct reports to complete a survey instrument such as Benchmarks®. This paper-and-pencil inventory allows them to rate your skills and aptitudes in 16 key areas.

Police command staff and supervisors may find the Benchmarks® instrument to be particularly effective in assessing leadership skills and enhancing the management development process. Please visit the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) website (http://www.ccl.org) to learn more about this 360o assessment tool. Dr. Mac Hart is certified by CCL as a professional facilitator, who can help you to accurately interpret and apply your Benchmarks® feedback scores. Please phone (804-353-6700) or email (MacHart@Police Interview.com) to discuss costs and arrangements for an on-line assessment. You and up to 12 people from whom you are seeking feedback simply access the website with a special password to complete the questionnaire. Then, CCL scores and assembles the findings for an interpretive feedback and coaching session with Dr. Hart.

"Benchmarks® offers an in-depth look at development by assessing skills developed from a multitude of leadership experiences, identifying what lessons are yet to be learned and helping the executive determine what specific work experiences need to be sought out in order to develop critical skills for success" (CCL website).

Note: The following descriptive sections on Benchmarks® Content, Results, and Special Features are quoted directly from the Center for Creative Leadership website.

Benchmarks® - Content

Benchmarks® assesses 16 skills and perspectives that Center researchers identified as being critical to successful managers:

  • Meeting Job Challenges:
    • Resourcefulness
    • Doing Whatever It Takes
    • Being a Quick Study
    • Decisiveness
  • Leading People:
    • Leading Employees
    • Confronting Problem Employees
    • Participative Management
    • Change Management
  • Respecting Self And Others:
    • Building and Mending Relationships
    • Compassion and Sensitivity
    • Straightforwardness and Composure
    • Balance Between Personal Life and Work
    • Self-Awareness
    • Putting People at Ease
    • Differences Matter
    • Career Management
  • Potential For Derailment:
    • Problems with Interpersonal Relationships
    • Difficulty Building and Leading a Team
    • Difficulty Changing or Adapting
    • Failure to Meet Business Objectives
    • Too Narrow Functional Orientation

Benchmarks® - Results

Through the Benchmarks® process, participants:

  • Learn how others perceive their strengths and development needs;
  • Learn how they compare with similar managers in other organizations;
  • Focus on skills and perspectives critical to being effective and successful; and
  • Design a plan that links needs to specific developmental experiences.

Benchmarks® - Special Features
  • Provides comparison of results with other successful managers
  • Provides ratings for both importance and competence
  • Provides information on potential career blocks
  • Offers a Developmental Learning Guide, helping participants focus feedback and develop a strategy for change
  • Available in multiple languages

One-to-one executive coaching sessions with Dr. Hart are designed to help leaders focus their Benchmarks® feedback and to develop strategies for change.

Feedback Checklist

Quoted from CCL Book: Ongoing Feedback-How To Get It, How To Use It (Authors Karen Kirkland and Sam Manoogian, 1998):

Here is a checklist that you can use to remind you of the important steps whenever you seek feedback from others:

  • Feedback needs to be sought on a regular basis. Exchanging information and perceptions is a process, not a single event.
  • Seek feedback after you have identified your goals. Access others in short, concise sessions.
  • Always seek specific feedback.
  • Don't make excuses or try to explain your behavior. When receiving feedback, remain calm and be sure to say, "Thank you."
  • When receiving feedback be sure to ask for alternative behaviors to improve your performance.
  • Be prepared to paraphrase and summarize any feedback you receive.
  • Be sure to respect individuals who don't wish to give feedback. They may change their minds later, but not if you pester them.
  • Be sure to take the time after the feedback interaction to evaluate the information. Use the self-management model of feedback.
  • One of the more important uses of feedback is to teach yourself to recognize situations in which a certain behavior needs to be altered. Feedback can be used to "catch yourself" at times when you are less than optimally effective.
  • Use feedback to clarify goals, to track progress toward those goals, and to improve the effectiveness of your behaviors over a period of time.

Phone: 804-353-6700
Fax: 804-358-7867
Email: MacHart@PoliceInterview.com

Malcolm M. Hart, Ph.D.
4807 Radford Avenue
Suite 103
Richmond, VA. 23230

Helping Law Enforcement Applicants Secure Jobs and Veterans Excel


“Law Enforcement Coaching” is dedicated to helping law enforcement
applicants achieve success in the job search process. Dr. Mac Hart
provides fee-based, telephonic coaching to police and deputy sheriff
applicants throughout the United States. His services include:

Telephone Coaching Sessions
Practice Interviews with Law Enforcement Officers

See Website for Fees & Details